The company is one among the group of manufacturers who have said that they would work with Uber to create a network of on-demand, electric VTOL aircraft
Consumer Electronics Show or CES held every year is, as the name suggests, for electronic products which are intended for mass consumption. You don’t expect a helicopter company to make an appearance at the show. However, Texas-based Bell Helicopter did exactly that.
The company showcased its air taxi cabin design (not the entire helicopter, mind you!) at the CES 2018 in Las Vegas. The cabin is part of a four-passenger urban mobility solution.
“Bell Helicopter is innovating at the limits of vertical flight and challenging the traditional notion of aviation to solve real-world problems,” stated Bell Helicopter’s President and CEO Mitch Snyder.
“The future of urban air taxi is closer than many people realize. We believe in the positive impact our design will have on addressing transportation concerns in cities worldwide.”
The inside view of the air taxi cabin showcased by Bell Helicopter at CES 2018. Source: Bell Helicopter
The cabin design of the air taxi is similar in many ways to another aircraft revealed last year by Bell Helicopter: the FCX-001.
“The air taxi is not a new concept – Bell Helicopter has been moving people over urban landscapes for decades,” added Snyder.
The company is one among the group of manufacturers who have said that they would work with Uber to create a network of on-demand, electric VTOL (or eVTOL) aircraft. The company is planning to develop demo air taxi by 2020 and the certified vehicle by mid-2020s.
Though, Bell is not the only manufacturer eying this timeline. One of the leading one in that list is aviation industry veteran AirBus who is in line to create an airborne self-piloting taxi by 2020, Kitty Hawk, a company backed by Google co-founder Larry Page and Uber which is also working on flying taxis.
Germany-based startup Volocopter and Lilium VTOL also believe that the time to fly on an air taxi could be as soon as ‘two to three years’. Volocopter also test flew one of its prototype in Dubai last year.Uber had struck a deal with NASA last year to develop software for managing "flying taxi" routes in the air, very much along the lines of ride-hailing services it has pioneered on the ground.